Learned And Eventually Forgotten

Many amazing things were accomplished in the days before computers became ubiquitous and the world wide web became a distraction as well as a tool.

Nazi Germany built the first jet fighter in the world, and was in the process of building a plane that bears a remarkable resemblance to the modern B2 bomber (although I think the stealth aspects of the “Hilter’s Stealth-Fighter” were an accidental byproduct and not the result of considered design). There was no computer modeling available to examine the airflow around the plane, which had no vertical control or stabilization surfaces, yet the plane flew.

The computer in the Apollo 11 capsule Columbia used to navigate to the moon for the first lunar landing, which occurred 50 years ago this July 16, wasn’t as powerful as the engine control unit in your car that moderates the electronic fuel injection and variable valve timing. Yet they made it to the moon, while we use sophisticated GPS systems to travel much shorter distances.

What prompted my thoughts on these amazing accomplishments is the discovery of a web site called The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies, which has photos of many of the drawing instruments undoubtedly used to make the precision plans needed to build the plane or the space capsule. The comments below many of the images are very entertaining, and emphasize how much things have changed.

A lifetime ago, in high school, I took a mechanical drawing course, and again when I was in college. I still have my old drawing instruments.

Now, those skills I developed and techniques I learned are almost useless. Wow, things have changed…

I need to dig up my old slide rules and take some pictures of them, maybe along with some of my film SLR cameras.

Cross-posted between Random Fate and The Moderate Voice.

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  • DLS

    The current lefty PC-playpen selective-techno-fest is merely childishness and stupidity.

    Yes, there were remarkable things done in the past. I cherish a book I own about advances made in World War II (when Ann Arbor, Michigan, was a frequent source of such advances — a site of brain power that probabably _had_ to be avoided intentionally by the atomic weaponeers because it likely drew spies from the start of the war). And the Germans were the “new weapon” “wonder weapon” gang most already know about — the first jet fighter, the first rocket fighter (the Komet), and other advances that could have had a great effect on the outcome of the war but (as happened so often) were impeded by Hitler. (One example, which would have been used to good effect against not only England but against the east coast cities of the USA, was the successful launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine. Imagine the possible effects had that been applied and used in the war rather than ignored or suppressed!)